Democrats have spent years pledging to address the gun violence that plagues communities across the U.S. A surge of mass shootings over the weekend that left dozens wounded and two dead served as a reminder of how little they have accomplished since taking control of Washington 15 months ago, reports the Associated Press.
The struggle for the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats to enact any meaningful legislation to enhance gun safety reflects how the party’s ambitious agenda has been stunted by internal squabbling, the persistence of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The almost complete Republican opposition to Democratic priorities, including gun rules, has hobbled a party with razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.
That little solace to gun safety advocates and tens of thousands of shooting victims who were told Democrats would reduce gun violence if given the chance to govern. In an already difficult election year, the inaction threatens to undermine the coalition of young people, women, voters of color and independents who helped deliver Joe Biden the presidency in 2020 and will be needed again if Democrats are to hold control of Congress.
“I’m just angry,” said David Hogg, a gun safety activist who survived the 2018 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. “We took the House and then we took the Senate and now we have the White House, too, and still, nothing is changing.”
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), whose son was shot to death nearly a decade ago, encouraged those frustrated with the pace of progress to be patient. She likened the fight to reduce gun violence to her parents’ fight for civil rights a generation earlier.
“Change doesn’t come as quickly as we ever want it to happen. Because understand, this is a culture that we’re having to change,” McBath said in an interview. “I know that we’re making real progress on this issue. The fact that I am actually in Washington, and I was elected in Georgia with a gun violence policy agenda ... tells you there is progress.” McBath’s return to Congress next year is far from assured. She’s locked in a competitive primary against Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a redrawn district in Atlanta’s northeast suburbs.
The gun lobby is convinced that public safety concerns will help its Republican allies retake the House, if not the Senate, this fall. National Rifle Association spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam said, “Whether the gun control lobby realizes it or not, there’s an increased appreciation and realization in this country that gun control does not make people safer.”
Gun safety groups like March For Our Lives are ratcheting up pressure on Democrats to take action. The group for the first time is backing primary challenges this spring and summer to Democratic incumbents who haven’t prioritized the issue.
On Tuesday, Hogg and other young activists with March For Our Lives dropped body bags outside Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s New York office to protest his unwillingness to bring gun safety legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.